The .318 Westley Richards, also known as the .318 Rimless Nitro Express, is a proprietary medium bore centerfire rifle cartridge developed by Westley Richards.
Westley Richards introduced the .318, primarily for use in their M98 Mauser and later their P14 Enfield based bolt action sporting rifles.
The .318 Westley Richards is a rimless bottlenecked cartridge primarily intended for use in Africa. The bullet diameter is actually .330", the naming is due to British nomenclature which sometimes names cartidges by their bore diameter rather than the more commonly applied groove diameter. The most common loading was a 250 gr (16 g) bullet with a listed speed of 2,400 ft/s (730 m/s), a lighter loading firing a 180 gr (12 g) bullet at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s) was also offered for lighter game. The 250gr bullet possessed high sectional density and thus excellent penetration.
Most sources state the .318 Westley Richards was introduced in 1910, although a Westley Richards catalogue contains a testimonial from a satisfied customer dated March 1909 who used his rifle to take 10 elephants, indicating the cartridge must have been introduced by at least 1908.
The .318 Westley Richards was one of the most popular medium-bore cartridges used in Africa, even after the introduction of the .375 Holland & Holland. As with many British proprietary cartridges, the .318 Westley Richards was forced into obsolescence when Kynoch suspended ammunition manufacturing in the 1960s. Kynamco resumed manufacture of the Kynoch range of cartridges in the 1990s meaning the ammunition is again commercially available, although no firearms manufacturers make factory rifles in .318 Westley Richards today.
While the cartridge is not intended for dangerous game, it has been used successfully on all African game species up to and including elephant. The cartridge was a contemporary of and very similar in performance to the .333 Jeffery, both were somewhat overshadowed by the arrival of the .375 Holland & Holland.
In his African Rifles and Cartridges, John "Pondoro" Taylor wrote that the 250gr .318 Westley Richards is "fully capable of driving its bullet the full length of a big elephant's body."
W.D.M. "Karamojo" Bell wrote that the .318 Westley Richards was a more reliable killer for certain shots than his favoured .275 Rigby, but the .275 Rigby was a "surgeons" rifle. On one occasion Bell used a pair of .318 Westley Richards rifles to take nine elephants with nine shots, he later wrote "In my opinion, the 250gr .318, although far from perfect, approaches most nearly the big game hunter's ideal bullet".
James H. Sutherland, author of The Adventures Of An Elephant Hunter, who over the course of his life shot between 1,300 and 1,600 elephants, hunted with rifles in various calibres including .303 British, 10.75 x 68mm Mauser, .450 Nitro Express and .500 Nitro Express. Eventually he settled on a .318 Westley Richards and a .577 Nitro Express double rifle for all his African hunting, in a letter to Westley Richards he wrote "In open country, against Elephants and Rhinoceroses where the quarry is difficult to approach and long shots are often required I find that I can do all that is requisite with the .318 using of course, solid nickel covered bullets."
Sutherland's close friend Major G.H. Anderson, author of African Safaris and founder of the East African Professional Hunter's Association, who over the course of his life shot between 350 and 400 elephants, did all of his African hunting with a .318 Westley Richards along with a .470 Nitro Express and a .577 Nitro Express.